The team announced the signing of veteran catcher Josh Bard and rebounding reliever Chad Cordero to Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training. Both have significant big league experience and could add to the organization's depth at the very least.
Bard, a 31-year-old switch-hitter, spent the 2009 season with the Washington Nationals and platooned at catcher, appearing in 90 games and posting a .230 batting average with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 274 at-bats. He hit .383 in June to lead all Nationals hitters and hit .300 with four doubles and seven RBIs in 13 games vs. the American League. Bard has played for Cleveland (2002-05), Boston (2006) and San Diego (2007-08), and is a lifetime .259 hitter in nine Major League seasons.
Along with Eliezer Alfonzo, whom the Mariners signed to a similar deal earlier this month, Bard will be added to a competitive mix in Peoria, Ariz. The bevy of backstops includes last season's primary starter, Rob Johnson, who had three surgeries this offseason but is expected to be ready for Spring Training, and promising rookie Adam Moore.
"We have two catchers, one who's experienced in Johnson and one, Moore, who's unproven, although we like him a lot," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We thought it was important to shore up our catching scenario and see what happens.
"We had an opportunity to sign two guys [in Alfonzo and Bard] to create opportunities. Bard has been around, there have been spurts where he's been a pretty good offensive player and he should be a really good mentor as far as handling a staff. You always have a need for an extra guy you can bring up from Triple-A because you never know what can happen with injuries, and we saw that last year with [former Seattle catcher] Kenji [Johjima] and Rob."
The Mariners also are curious to see what can happen with Cordero, the right-handed former All-Star closer with the Nationals who spent the '09 season in the Mariners' Minor League system rehabilitating from the surgery he had on his right shoulder in July '08.
Cordero, who has 128 saves in a big league career that began with the Montreal Expos in 2003, is 20-14 with a career 2.78 ERA. Prior to missing the bulk of the '08 season, he averaged nearly 38 saves per season over the previous three years. From '05 to '07, Cordero collected 113 saves while making 218 appearances (an average of 72.7 games per year). He had a career-high 47 saves in '05 with the Nationals when he was named to the National League All-Star team.
Cordero originally signed with the Mariners on March 12 and appeared in six games (six starts) with the Arizona League Mariners and in eight games, all in relief, with the Everett AquaSox last year.
"Last year was a difficult year for him because he had rehabbed, and he was excited when we brought him into Spring Training," Zduriencik said. "When he started to throw, it became obvious that it was just going to be a year for him to get back on track.
"So you're not sure what you have here. We do know that Chad has a history of success at the big league level and that he's coming off a year where he got himself back into shape. He's worked very hard this winter, he's lost weight, and we'll see what we've got."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.